Surprise, Surprise: The HPV Vaccine Works Wonders

The pervasiveness of cancer-causing strands of the human papillomavirus (HPV) has dropped by half among teenage girls in the last decade, thanks to the vaccine that was just introduced in 2006. Additionally: kindly fuck off, Michele Bachmann.

From the New York Times:

Infection with the viral strains that cause cancer dropped to 3.6 percent among girls ages 14 to 19 in 2010, from 7.2 percent in 2006, a new study has found. The vaccine protects against strains of the HPV virus that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers.

“These are striking results,” said Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They should be a wake-up call that we need to increase vaccination rates. The bottom line is this: It is possible to protect the next generation from cancer, and we need to do it.”

The decline surprised experts because vaccination rates in the U.S. are still pretty low; only about a third of teenage girls have gotten the full three doses. (In other countries, ranging from Denmark to Rwanda, vaccination rates are at least 80 percent.) That means "50,000 girls alive today will eventually develop fatal cervical cancer, deaths that could have been prevented if the country’s rate had been at 80 percent," according to Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are you waiting for?

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Reminder: young men can and should get vaccinated, too.

Image via AP.